NFL free agency changes the landscape of dynasty fantasy football from year to year. Given the recent events going on in the world, there isn’t a more appropriate time for much needed exciting news for football fans than the 2020 free agent signings. At Dynasty Nerds, we are committed to giving our fans instant reaction to all the news and notes and as the head of our IDP team, I will breakdown the important IDP signings from the first day of NFL free agency.
- 292 lb
Arik Armstead stays with the NFC Champions on a 5-year $85 million deal that guarantees him $34 million. Armstead has played both DE and DT alongside DeForest Buckner. In his five-year career has racked up 19 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in 62 career games. Armstead has played all 16 games in three of those five seasons. Armstead’s new deal combined with the departure of Buckner, he will now likely take over as the primary interior defender for the 49ers defensive line, assuming they don’t spend one of their two first-round picks on a defensive lineman. After a career year in which he compiled 10 of his 19 career sacks, it’s likely Armstead’s sack numbers take a dip if he is forced inside more in 2020.
It’s rare in this game you see a dominating defensive player moved in his prime as we did with DeForest Buckner on this first day of free agency. The 49ers star DT was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft and agreed to a reported 5-year deal worth roughly $105 million paying the 25-year-old $21 million per season.
Since being drafted by the 49ers in 2016 the former Oregon Duck has played in and started 63 of 64 career games racking up 28.5 sacks and registering 74 hits on QBs in just four seasons. Colts GM Chris Ballard mentioned how important it is to win in the trenches and used the Colts top 15 draft pick to add one of the NFL’s best to their front. The Colts interior defensive line only accounted for 6.5 of the 41 teams’ sacks in 2019, DeForest Buckner is sure to change that in a hurry with 19.5 sacks over his past two seasons.
This also is amazing news for Darius Leonard who is arguably the best LB in IDP leagues going into the season. This should give Leonard more freedom to read and diagnose plays with Buckner controlling the line of scrimmage in front of him. Buckner still remains as the DT2 in all formats and should continue to produce even in Matt Eberflus system.
- 235 lbs
Despite back to back injury-riddled seasons former Browns LB Christian Kirksey found himself a new home in a hurry in free agency landing with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers look to replace Blake Martinez with Kirksey who signed a 2-year $16 million deal. The hope is the LB can return to his 2016-2017 form in which he posted back to back 130+ tackle seasons. Blake Martinez posted three straights 140+ tackle seasons and likely demanded too much for the Packers to retain him. So the Packers went dumpster diving in the hope of finding a gem in Kirksey who is reunited with Mike Pettine who he played for in Cleveland.
If Kirksey can just stay on the field, he can easily post a high LB2 or even LB1 season in 2020 with Kenny Clark in front of him as well as the “Smith brothers” terrorizing QBs off the edge. A year from now we are either talking about a player who could potentially be comeback player of the year or one who might be out of the NFL soon. Only time will tell but this situation should raise Kirksey’s value up enough that even if you’re not a believer you can cash in and move him for a decent player or draft pick.
- 275 lbs
Jason Pierre-Paul has had one wild career from coming into the NFL as a “raw” prospect and winning the Super Bowl in his first season to an off the field incident on the 4th of July that nearly cost him his playing career. Now JPP is 31 years old and just re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 2-year $27 million deal which he earned with his 21 sacks in his past 26 games with the Bucs. JPP when healthy is just a sack machine making him a very valuable IDP especially given how thin the DE position becomes in most formats.
The former New York Giant has only started 16 games in a season three times (once with Tampa Bay) in those seasons he has registered 12.5,8.5 and 12.5 sack seasons which put him comfortably in the DE1 category across all scoring formats in IDP leagues. JPP should still be a force for the Bucs and your IDP teams in 2020 and beyond with 79.5 sacks entering his age 31 season, this might be one player we could be talking about for the Hall of Fame when he retires.
- 267 lbs
In one word, Shaq Lawson has been very unimpressive in both NFL and IDP value. Despite that, the Miami Dolphins signed the 25-year-old defensive end to a reported 3-year $30 million deal. The former Clemson Tiger has failed to impress in his first three years in Buffalo. Hopefully, a change of scenery and defensive scheme will get him back to making impact plays as he did in college.
Lawson has 16.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles in four seasons and has only started 17 of his 50 career games played, not a great sign for a player making $10 million a year. The Buffalo Bills used both the 3-4 and 4-3 scheme during Lawson’s time there so hopefully a change to a hybrid scheme under Dolphins coach Brian Flores will benefit his game and help him start making splash plays to increase his IDP value. As of now, Lawson is a flier at DE likely available in free agency or late in startups. Don’t let the money fool you, it’s more likely than not that Lawson is one of those players who is a better real-life football player than one for fantasy football.
- 243 lbs
The former Chicago Bear signed a 3-year $21 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders with that new contract comes $13.5 million in guarantees. The Raiders defense needed a massive upgrade at LB and upgrading that position before the draft has given them some flexibility.
Nick Kwiatkoski has been used mostly in a reserve role while in Chicago. However, injuries and off the field issues opened the door for somewhat of a breakout in 2019 registering 76 tackles and 3 sacks. It remains to be seen what he can do if given a starting role, but it seems very likely we are going to find out in 2020. The former Bear has yet to log more than 8 starts in a season but there’s no doubt about it if he plays as effectively as he did down the stretch for the Bears, he can be a huge find for dynasty owners who picked him up off waivers last season.
Players like Nick Kwiatkoski are what makes deep IDP leagues the only format to play in, he’s the equivalent of finding an Adam Thielen to offense only leagues and when these players finally get the shot to show what they can do it makes the countless hours we put into playing this game so worth it. The Raiders defensive line is young and hungry and Kwiatkoski should be able to plug in behind them and rack up tackles if he’s healthy in 2020. This move likely shuts down a Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen to Las Vegas mock draft hopes for now but don’t rule out the Raiders adding another LB at some point in free agency or the draft.
- 300 lbs
It wouldn’t be right to not include one Miami Hurricane on this list; Calais Campbell was traded from what looks to be a rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars team to the Baltimore Ravens where he would sign a 2-year $27 million deal.
Plain and simple Calais Campbell just produces in IDP leagues. He has been one of the most consistent scoring DEs for a decade. It’s not breaking news that you really can’t say that about many players in this game, since being drafted in 2008 the former Miami Hurricanes standout has never played in less than 13 games in any season, including starting in all 16 in each of his last 5 seasons. Calais Campbell has never dipped below 56 tackles or 5 sacks in a season since his rookie year, a season in which he didn’t start a game.
While Campbell is likely entering the end of his career, there’s a chance he can still produce as an effective IDP which is evident by the contract the Ravens front office signed him to. I would temper my expectations but, in a world, where we target youth so much the old-timers who can still be effective can be steals in a startup or can be easily acquired through trade especially during a rookie draft. As a dynasty owner keep Calais Campbell on your radar if you need the depth at DE.
- 245 lbs
Here’s the thing when you play for five teams in six years, you would rarely think productive IDP and you’re right, mostly. But Jon Bostic is a very interesting player. Bostic has totaled four seasons with 73 tackles or more and is coming off a career year with Washington racking up 105 tackles. He’s the NFL’s version of a “bargain bin” LB but he’s proven he can produce. While the big play numbers aren’t quite there for the veteran LB the tackles sure are and playing alongside rookie Cole Holcomb last year showed enough that the Redskins brought him back on a 2-year $5 million deal. This is important for IDP because as much as the Isaiah Simmons over Chase Young fit could be a debate it’s likely the Redskins may just go back with their 2019 LB combo and add a potential generational player on their front four as many expected pre-combine. Jon Bostic is likely free in nearly every format you play but don’t be surprised if the Redskins LB comes close to his 2019 numbers.
- 305 lbs
The Baltimore Ravens realized their weaknesses in 2019 and addressed that on day one of free agency, after adding Calais Campbell they signed former Los Angeles Rams DT Michael Brockers to a 3-year $30 million deal. Between the two veteran defensive linemen, the Ravens brought in players with over 100 career sacks combined. The sack numbers are on a year to year basis are a bit too inconsistent for my liking but his 50+ tackles over the past three seasons including a career-high 63 in 2019 keep his IDP value very much alive. Michael Brockers value is much higher in DT required leagues, but I see him producing much better sack numbers in Baltimore than he did playing in Aaron Donald’s shadow the past few years.
- 305 lbs
The Philadelphia Eagles make a surprising move signing former Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave to a 3-year $39 million deal with $26 million in guaranteed money. It’s likely Hargrave’s 60 tackles in 2019 are a bit of an outlier especially for a nose tackle but this signing to me could be a boost in value for Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett assuming they can stay healthy those two would be the IDPs to focus in on in 2020. The presence of Hargrave in the run game was felt in the last two seasons with 109 tackles, if he can continue this dominance it will free up the rest of the defensive line to get after opposing QBs. It was a down year for the Eagles font four in terms of IDP production so adding Hargrave should help for the 2020 season.
- 255 lbs
Another former Patriots player heading back to join one of his former coaches, Jamie Collins signs a 3-year $30 million deal to join the Lions and old coach Matt Patricia. Collins returned to the Patriots in 2019 after two seasons with the Browns. He led the Patriots in tackles and sacks last season.
At this point in his career, Collins excels more in sub and blitz packages than he does against the run that was evident to how little he played in the Patriots playoff defeat against the Tennessee Titans. Collins’s IDP value should be tempered with him playing for his third team in three years. Although the systems may be similar his scoring is too inconsistent to rely on him over a full season. This likely is a better move for the Detroit Lions football team than for dynasty fantasy football. To Collins’s credit, he has three 100+ tackle seasons to his name and since his 2nd year in the NFL, he has had at least one interception and one forced fumble in each of those six seasons. I would proceed with caution here but if you get desperate at LB there are worse options than Jamie Collins in 2020.
- 237 lbs
One of the most prized possessions of this year’s free-agent class signed early Tuesday morning when Blake Martinez landed with the New York Giants on a reported 3-year $30 million deal.
Martinez has been an IDP stud the past three seasons with 144 tackles in each of 2017 and 2018 and a career-high 155 tackles in 2019. In each of his past three seasons, Martinez had no less than 91 solo tackles and his career-high for sacks was in 2018 with 5. The Giants needed an LB and Martinez might have been the best of the free-agent class.
There’s not nearly the talent in front or beside him in NY as there was in Green Bay. But the Giants defense is likely going to be on the field a ton in 2020 and Martinez should be in for another 140+ tackle season. If you are rostering Martinez in dynasty leagues you shouldn’t see much of a change in value and this was probably close to a best-case scenario for him.
Fantasy Relevant Players Franchise/Transition Tagged
Bud Dupree – Steelers
Shaq Barrett – Buccaneers
Anthony Harris – Vikings
Justin Simmons – Broncos
Yannick Ngakoue – Jaguars
Chris Jones – Chiefs
Leonard Williams – Giants
Matt Judon – Baltimore
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